Seeing the momentum changing in the middle of the fifth inning against River Hill, Atholton softball coach Bob Baxter called his team together on the mound, smiled and told his players to relax.
River Hill’s Sara Mascone had just launched a two-run home run over the left-field fence, pulling the Hawks within one of the Raiders, 4-3. But, as Baxter calmly reminded his players, this was still their game to lose.
“I knew as soon as they hit that home run that it was time to come out and settle them down, let them know that we were the ones still in control with a 4-3 lead,” Baxter said. “When you play a good team, sometimes they are going to hit the ball, but the key is how you respond to that.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of the way they handled it.”
Heeding their coach’s words, Atholton (10-1, 11-1) got out of the inning with two straight outs and then added three insurance runs in its final two at-bats to seal a 7-3 victory over River Hill (7-3, 8-3) on the road.
For a Raiders’ team that currently sits alone in second place in the county, only a year removed from finishing with a .500 overall record, it was just the latest example of how far this group has come.
“Today when they hit that home run, I feel like the old team from last year would have gotten down on themselves and it would have gotten worse,” said Atholton’s lone senior Melanie Berger, who contributed an RBI double among her two hits on the afternoon. “This year’s team has that drive to win. We know that, no matter what happens, we have the ability to pull it out.”
Having junior pitcher Alex Herschman on the mound certainly has helped in terms of giving the Raiders’ confidence. She has picked up all 11 wins this spring for Atholton and against River Hill she was her usual stingy self.
Herschman struck out six Hawks’ batters, allowing eight hits and pitching around four errors. And, while there were mistakes, her defense also pitched in with a couple big plays.
Right fielder Danielle Dolbow had two of the highlights, throwing out a runner at third in the fourth inning to retire the side and making a diving catch in the fifth.
Neither team managed any offense in the first two innings, but Atholton got things rolling in the third. The Raiders sent eight batters to the plate, got a couple big hits from Herschman and Berger, and took advantage of a couple mistakes by River Hill in the field. By the end of the frame, it was 4-0 Raiders.
River Hill kept battling, though, getting an RBI single by Caroline Hickey in the fourth and then a double from Kinsey Johnson followed by Mascone’s bomb in the fifth to cut the deficit to one.
“It was awesome to see us continue to battle and come back, but my biggest message to them was that you have to bring that intensity from the beginning,” River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum said. “We can’t just to expect to turn it on, not against a team like that. Our mistakes — that was probably the most errors we’ve had all season — they made us pay for them.”
After the home run, Dolbow made her diving catch and then Herschman delivered a strikeout to maintain Atholton’s cushion. Then in the top of the sixth, the Raiders tacked on another run thanks to Herschman’s second RBI of the day.
“When we are in those tense situations, I think we all really focus on being composed and calm,” Herschman said. “I know for me, I just think lets get our defense off the field and get back to our offense — if we keep it close, I know we’re going to hit.”
Atholton pulled away even further in the seventh with Dolbow (2-4, two runs, RBI) and Amanda Peterson each scoring runs to create the final margin.
On the day, Gina D’Asto (2-5, run) and Nikki Martin (1-3, double, run, RBI) were also key contributors for the Raiders.
River Hill pitcher Sabrina Curtiss finished with seven strikeouts.
Having now played each of the county’s teams once, the Raiders find themselves only a game back of undefeated Glenelg (10-0, 13-0) and a game ahead of third-place Hammond (8-2, 9-2).
Atholton 7, River Hill 3
123 456 7 R-H-E
A 004 001 2 7-10-4
RH 000 120 0 3-8-4
Glenelg 8, Reservoir 1
The Gladiators put two runs on the board in the first inning, capitalizing on a hard hit to the outfield by Mandy Bendix and that turned out to be all they needed to pull out the victory. For insurance purposes, Glenelg did tack on four more runs in the fourth and another run apiece in the sixth and seventh.
In the fourth inning, Leah Allen (2-3, 3 RBI, run, stolen base) knocked in two and Marissa Saglimbeni drove in the other two courtesy of an inside-the-park home run. Allen got her other RBI in the sixth and Sharon Mielke plated Faith Kujawa (double) in the seventh.
Bendix pitched for Glenelg and struck out five, while allowing four hits and no earned runs.
Reservoir got four strikeouts from Emily Wang on the mound and Tara Thompson scored the team’s lone run in the bottom of the seventh.
123 456 7 R-H-E
G 200 401 1 8-7-1
Re 000 000 1 1-4-4
Mt. Hebron 16, Wilde Lake 2
The Vikings got back on the winning track with a convincing victory. Maddie Bennett pitched the complete game, striking out four and allowing just four hits. Bennett also led the offense with two doubles, a triple and four RBI. Mary Arsenault doubled to drive in two runs in the second inning.
Alex Stim made a running catch in centerfield to save a run, while Katheryn Diaz played solid defense at third. Evvie Buehlman chipped in with a triple.
Wilde Lake got both its run courtesy of clutch two-out base hits. In the second, junior Olivia Harrison reach on a single, senior Melanie Andereson followed with a double and sophomore Amber Love delivered a two-out single. The Wildecats scored again in the fifth after junior Brittany Kuntz led off with a single and senior Kourtney Harrison brought her around with a hard base hit. Anderson led the team by going 2-2.
123 45 R-H-E
WL 100 01 2-6-3
MH 185 2x 16-11-1
Hammond 6, Centennial 2
The Golden Bears got another strong pitching performance from Samantha Speierman, who struck out 15 Eagles and allowed just two hits on the afternoon on her way to the win.
Hammond was led offensively by Christy Smith and Katelynn Spingola, who each had two RBI. Emily Speierman (2-3) and Amber Ginsburg (single, RBI) also were strong contributors.
Centennial scored both of its runs in the top of the sixth when Emily Bowman led off with a single and advanced to third on an error. Anna Cowan reached base on a hit-by-pitch and then Emily Allen drove in both runs with a two-out double. Bowman pitched and struck out seven.
123 456 7 R-H-E
C 000 002 0 2-2-1
Ha 000 312 x 6-5-2
Marriotts Ridge 8, Long Reach 4
The Mustangs were led by big days at the plate from Jess Dubbs (4-5, 3 stolen bases, 3 runs) and Katie Gottuck (2-3, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases, 3 RBI) on the way to the victory. It was a homecoming for Dubbs, who had played the last three years for the Lightning.
Alex Cwalina also contributed two hits and three RBI for Marriotts Ridge.
Long Reach pitcher Isa Carunungan had four strikeouts, while walking only one. She also had two singles, a RBI and a run scored. Other strong efforts came from Madison Bashem (single, 2 RBI) and Nolena Ard (3 walks, 2 runs).
123 456 7 R-H-E
MR 100 052 0 8-11-0
LR 003 000 1 4-3-4
Howard 17, Oakland Mills 0
The Lions put 11 runs on the board in the first inning and never looked back, scoring 17 runs on 17 hits. Kayli Paugh led the Lions with three hits, including a double and 2 RBI. Overall, 11 different Howard players recorded at least one hit. Courtney Merson and Abby Walsh split the pitching duties to record the one-hit shutout.
Heidi Larsen got Oakland Mills’ hit.
123 45 R-H-E
Ho (11)20 22 17-17-1
OM 000 00 0-1-6
Chapelgate 19, Maryvale Prep 7
The Yellowjackets got themselves an early lead with three runs in each of the first two innings and then really broke things open with a 10-run fourth inning.
There were standout efforts all around, including four hits from Nicole Edmondson, Clara Sevy and Bethanne Venkatesan.
Venkatesan was especially big at the plate, hitting three triples, a double and accounting for 8 RBI. She also was tough on the mound, striking out eight.
Lydia Martin also was a big contributor, hitting a double, a triple and producing 3 RBI.
123 456 R-H-E
CCA 330 (10)03 19-22-6
M 012 220 7-6-4
Standings (as of April 22)
Glenelg, 10-0 county, 13-0 overall; Atholton, 10-1, 11-1; Hammond, 8-2, 9-2; Howard, 7-3, 9-4; River Hill, 7-3, 8-3; Mt. Hebron, 5-5, 8-5; Centennial, 4-6, 5-7-1; Marriotts Ridge, 3-6, 4-8; Reservoir, 3-7, 4-9; Long Reach, 2-8, 2-9; Oakland Mills, 1-9, 2-9; Wilde Lake, 0-10, 1-10; Chapelgate, 7-3 IAAM B, 9-4.